Shovel Knight Dig Review thumbnail

Shovel Knight Dig Review

A prequel that goes deep

A.J. Maciejewski

Reviewed by playing a Nintendo Switch on 💎

Shovel Knight Dig is rated Everyone 10+ by the ESRB

Everyone's favourite shovel-wielding hero is back and this time, he's gone roguelike in the very cool 2D platformer Shovel Knight Dig.

│ Just like in nearly all our reviews, you can watch A.J. play Shovel Knight Dig below so you can judge accordingly. ▶️

Shovel Knight Dig screenshot 1
Hey, that fellow looks familiar

Shovel Knight's origins

Shovel Knight Dig is a prequel to the original game even though it features upgraded 16-bit visuals and a whole new setup. The story involves the nogoodnik Drill Knight who steals Shovel Knight's treasures so it's up to you to tunnel underground, deal with this goofball, and reclaim your goods. The campaign that follows will have you traversing a handful of distinct environments while occasionally chatting with characters both good and bad and it's quite a delightful game to take in with its lovely Super NES style graphics and catchy music. v1d30chumz 44-210-77-106

Classic gameplay

One of the most notable aspects about Shovel Knight Dig is that it features similar controls to the original game so long-time fans such as myself will feel at home right off the bat. Specifically, you run and jump around while using your shovel to both slash at enemies and down-thrust which will make you bounce back up. This time around, you'll also have to dig which you can do in every direction except up and you can also unleash relic subweapons whenever you have one equipped. Plus, there are secret shovel blade techniques that enhance your core abilities by allowing you to do things like charge attacks, plummet down, and hover while attacking. All of this comes together to make a well-rounded and challenging formula that'll keep you hooked as you dig deeper and deeper. 😄

Shovel Knight Dig screenshot 2
Oh, noes; I was so close...

A roguelike twist

Whereas the original Shovel Knight consists of carefully-crafted stages that pose unique challenges, Shovel Knight Dig involves mastering a procedurally-generated descent. On the plus side, many situations require skilled platforming, quick thinking, and resourcefulness to master so the sense of challenge is superb. For example, you might carry a key to a side area then when you're there, you may have to complete a tricky puzzle in order to spawn a chest or helpful NPC. These moments make the gameplay rewarding, especially because you never know what to expect. However, the expertly-crafted experience of the original is still replaced with an overtly random campaign which comes with some inherent baggage such as moments that can be downright unfair while others will leave you overpowered; it's all in the luck of the draw. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, though, as many will relish the randomness of it all. 🤠

Treasures aplenty

Completing Shovel Knight Dig doesn't take all that long but you may want to stick around to unlock everything which will consume a good chunk of time. For starters, rescuing the Armorer from Smeltworks is the most rewarding unlockable as he'll allow you to purchase nifty game-changing armour as well as redeem found templates for more armour. I also enjoyed purchasing relic keys to unlock challenge rooms that allow certain relics to appear but there are only 7 to obtain if I recall correctly. Meanwhile, you can exchange earned gems for item unlocks and shortcuts that will start you deeper in the dungeon. Of course, you'll begin each run without any gear except for your armour of choice so being able to spawn more items is crucial if you want additional options for upgrades while you dig. 😉

Is that all?

Shovel Knight Dig may be a fun and challenging experience with tight controls and a fantastic 16-bit presentation but it is also quite limiting in its current state. For the record, I completed the campaign in less than 3 hours total playtime and I've already unlocked 55% of everything. The thing is; I don't really feel like acquiring the rest because the gameplay gets rather repetitious after a while. For example, you'll start to see the same situations and side-rooms over and over again and it all ends up feeling very samey after only a few hours. I may play it down the road but right now, I'd much rather re-play the original and the phenomenal puzzle game spin-off that is Shovel Knight Pocket Dungeon. Now that I think about it, I wish that Shovel Knight Dig went in a whole new direction like that game did. 😅

Shovel Knight Dig screenshot 3
Finally, victory is mine!

Shovel Knight Dig may not be as fine-tuned as the original but it's still a ton of fun to dig deeper and deeper in its roguelike campaign. I definitely recommend it but try not to be disappointed if the fun is over within only a few hours like it was for me.

  • + The classic Shovel Knight gameplay is well-adapted for roguelike digging
  • + Nifty side-rooms and tricky scenarios
  • + Lots of rewarding collectibles
  • - Isn't that long and could use a lot more content to keep things interesting
  • - Certain situations can be too random
  • - Not as fine-tuned as the original
7.6 out of 10
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Watch A.J. play Shovel Knight Dig
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